17 Seafarers Left in Limbo on Kish Island, Iran

Seventeen seafarers, who haven’t received their salaries for over two years, were abandoned on Kish Island, Iran, in dire conditions, Justice Upheld, a British registered human rights charity said.

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The case emerged in May 2018 after an Indian national contacted the charity seeking help on the case, Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) disclosed in a case study.

The Indian seafarer was abandoned by his employer, and hadn’t received a salary for over a year. However, he was not alone, 11 more Indian nationals, 3 Ethiopian and 2 Filipino mariners shared a similar fate. The seafarers were left on the island, some of them for over a year as their contracts expired and were waiting for their salaries to be paid so they could return home.

What is more, their identity documents were taken by their employers denying them the opportunity to leave the island.

The living conditions they were faced with were poor, to say the least, and their access to food, water and health care were limited, according to HRAS.

The mariners worked for ships ran by companies such as Baltic Marine and Al Matab Shipping, the charity said.

As indicated in the case study, the labor abusive practice had an ultimate goal “to wear down the seafarers, break them physically and mentally, so they would return home without the salaries due to them.”

The abandonment case was reported to relevant Indian and Filipino embassies. Justice Upheld said that Indian authorities reacted immediately pressuring shipping agents to  resolve the issue. Fortunately, the men received their outstanding wages and were repatriated at the end of May.

Indian seafarers have often fallen victim to abandonment practices, and recently two UAE companies were blacklisted by the country for abandonment cases.

HRAS said it was concerned that Kish Island was being used for abandoning seafarers by shipowners, calling the industry to act and prevent similar cases from happening again.